Volunteers of rightwing groups are being asked to prepare themselves for the construction of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya in the poll-bound state of Uttar Pradesh during a weapons training programme in Madhya Pradesh.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) made its intentions clear during the week-long training camp for its women activists saying they will have to “tackle any obstacle” during the construction of the temple in the communally sensitive state, where polls are slated for early 2017.
Durga Vahini volunteers, who are being trained on the outskirts of Madhya Pradesh’s capital city of Bhopal, learned to shoot guns and use cane sticks during the Shourya Prashikshan Shivir or Bravery Training Camp. VHP and aBajrang Dal activists also attended the camp.
“Durga Vahini came into existence after Babri Masjid demolition. That’s why we are asked to be prepared and get ourselves trained to tackle any such situation in future which may come in the way of the construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya,” Kirti Dixit, Bhopal convener of the VHP’s women’s wing, told Hindustan Times.
Dixit added that they were taught to use firearms and cane sticks to save themselves from anti-social elements and protect the ‘Hindu dharma’.
VHP’s Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh regional pracharak Rajesh Tiwari also echoed similar sentiments saying the youngsters learnt about self-defence and Hindu sanskriti.
“We are happy that our women’s wing is showing immense enthusiasm in the training camp for construction of the Ram Temple. They will definitely play an important role in Ram Mandir,” Tiwari said.
The VHP, which is affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), decided to launch the construction of the controversial temple from December 31 during the Ujjain Kumbh. The RSS is considered the ideological fountainhead of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre.
“We kept our patience, but won’t wait beyond December,” VHP general secretary said while addressing saints at the religious gathering that is held once in 12 years.
Days later, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat also raised the issue at the Vaicharik Kumbh organised by the MP government but did not back the VHP call.
VHP office-bearers said that the construction of the temple may be the immediate goal in their sight but the larger objective behind the training camp attended by about 1,000 activists was to save the ‘Hindu Rashtra and its sanskriti’.
The BJP, however, distanced itself from the camps saying the Bajrang Dal and VHP do not constitute the party and “people should listen to only to the government” on such issues.
Last month, a VHP leader was among several people booked by police for allegedly instigating religious sentiments by imparting arms training to women cadres of a right-wing affiliate in Varanasi.
At least 70 members of the Durga Vahini were trained to shoot with air rifles and fight with cane sticks during the controversial camp at the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Varanasi camp came close to a similar training programme organised by the Bajrang Dal at Ayodhya. The earlier camp too ran into a controversy after a video showing activists fighting volunteers dressed as terrorists in robes and skull caps surfaced.
A Bajrang Dal leader was arrested over the camp which the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) said was organised to polarise the state ahead of the assembly polls next year.